Letters to the Editor

Letter: Research nexus

February 28, 2014


To the editor:

As a member of the Joint Economic Development Council, bringing quality jobs to our community is something I care deeply about. When the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is built outside of Manhattan, northeast Kansas can become a major research nexus, and that could serve to draw quality jobs to us. This potential of a research nexus is something we need to plan for now, not after NBAF is built.

There is talk of KU needing a convention center and the city wanting to partner with KU. Keeping in mind NBAF, to me the real question we need to answer is this: “How does a convention center help us become a research nexus?” What if the convention center were located on West Campus near pharmaceutical research labs or teaching facilities? What if we connect it to a pharmaceutical museum? Trying to tie what KU truly needs to become a research nexus, to what the city or county merely wants, could be counterproductive and weaken that economic development potential.  

We are a very unique community in Kansas, and even the Midwest. We need to forward economic development initiatives that showcase what makes us special, such as KU. That unique quality is what differentiates us from our competitors, and will ultimately attract quality jobs to us.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Ms Soden has presented some points of substance.... thank you.

Convention centers represent low paying wages. KCMO metro and Topeka have plenty of convention space and the infrastructure to support such activity. Small town Lawrence ,Kansas cannot afford to replace KCMO metro or Topeka.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

This Chamber of Commerce is manipulated by home builders who have destroyed the tax base with a "bedroom community" that does not pay back and increases taxes.

This Chamber of Commerce is manipulated by home builders who have destroyed the retail market by flooding the market which is business unfriendly.

This Chamber of Commerce is manipulated by home builders who have drained our pocketbooks and raised our taxes. http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/ I've felt for quite some time that the above website best describes Lawrence,Kansas.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 11 months ago

You left out those conspiratorial Koch brothers that are funding everything you don't like.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 11 months ago

You forgot to mention those conspiratorial Koch brothers.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

My ancestors brought the first steam-powered thresher West of the Mississippi to Kansas in the 1880s. Every Kansan should shudder to think what the NBAF will bring to Kansas in its 50-year lifespan. It's not the threat of an F-5 tornado, or bioterrorist attack that makes the NBAF dangerous to KS agriculture. It's the knowledge of the scientists conducting "dual use research" at the NBAF from 2018-2068.


Kansans are to feel safer knowing KSU Alum, former USAMRIID Commander & VP of Midwest Research Institute Global, Col. David R. Franz, is a voting member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity? The NSABB is charged with "oversight of dual use research, defined as biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a biologic threat to public health and/or national security."


Col. Franz was a member of the Kansas Bioscience Authority Executive Committee, the group which awarded ~ $450K for 3 studies with his company, Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO.

"On April 8, 2009, KBA contracted with MRI for “Task Order No. 2” for a total of $200,000 for “NBAF GOCO Strategy.” "


How is Midwest Research Institute going to find 300 trustworthy NBAF employees to transfer to KS from its other GOCO labs? Maybe the Kansas Bioscience Authority will pay for security clearances?

In 2008, Ventria Bioscience Inc. brought Weiqiang Zhang, seed breeder, to Junction City. Zhang just happened to steal $Million rice seeds, according to the FBI.


The KS Bioscience Authority committed $1,000,000 to Ventria. (Approved Oct. 12, 2006.)


Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

When members of the National Research Council committee charged by Congress to review an updated DHS risk assessment for the proposed NBAF in 2012, they asked about security protocols.


A KSU representative stated that KSU’s Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) was the proving ground for the university’s security processes. He went on to stipulate that BRI employees passed requirements identical to what would be used for NBAF researchers. "We are prepared."

This statement was made on Jan. 27, 2012. By October, we would learn of this BRI revelation:

Alma woman has admitted embezzling from Kansas State University's BRI (aka Pat Roberts Hall) while working as an office manager.

"Miller worked from August 2007 to January 2013 at the institute on the Manhattan campus. The institute receives grants for infectious disease research focused on threats to plant, animal and human health."


After the January meeting, Col. Jerry Jaax, KSU University Veterinarian, came up to me and said "You must be DevilsAdvocate." I affirmed his guess (based upon my statements to the committee?). Jaax stated "Dr. Ivins was NOT THE ANTHRAX MAILER."

Having worked with Ivins his entire career, I suppose Jaax might be right & the FBI wrong?

This leaves the possibility that the actual Anthrax Mailer will become a research scientist at the NBAF, as several former USAMRIID scientists have gone on to work at Plum Island Animal Disease Center for the USDA, & for Midwest Research Institute..

Well, at least the USDA has security:

Wengui Yan, a rice geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, AR, was arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiring to steal trade secrets.


Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, surely the infamous NSA’s Edward Snowden has nothing to do with safety & security of the NBAF.

Booz Allen Hamilton, the last employer for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, crafted the NBAF propaganda which KSU & DHS have fed us:

“Booz Allen worked with the DHS Science and Technology NBAF Program Manager to formulate strategy and talking points in response to a controversial finding in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report on NBAF’s Site Specific Risk Assessment. In consultation with Booz Allen, NBAF acted quickly in developing both an offensive and defensive messaging strategy for White House and news media briefings and queries. The core messages emphasized NBAF’s commitment to protection and safety, comprehensive mitigation strategies, scientific rigor and evidence-based approaches, and the importance of due diligence and best-in-field practice.

Whether you’re managing today’s issues or looking beyond the horizon, count on us to help you be ready for what’s next.”


Kansans should ask Ms. Soden, rather than “the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility . . . . draw quality jobs” to Kansas; will the NBAF provide a 50-year window of opportunity for a researcher with an inadequate security background check to destroy Kansas agriculture?

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago


By Scott Rothschild August 1, 200

But Jerry Jaax, associate vice president for research compliance at K-State, said that despite the developments in the anthrax case, NBAF should proceed as planned.

"It's disturbing," he said, concerning the allegations against Ivins. "But that doesn't mean we fold up our shop and say we can't do this kind of work."

The proposed NBAF would focus on diseases that could affect the nation's food supply and pose a health threat to humans. These include foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever, African swine fever, Rift Valley fever, Nipah virus, Hendra virus and others.

He said NBAF, which would be under the Department of Homeland Security, would not be used for anthrax research because that research is conducted by the Department of Defense.

Jaax, who served at the Fort Detrick lab as the chief of the veterinary medicine division, said he knew Ivins as a "thoughtful and sensitive person."

He said he didn't want to jump to conclusions about whether Ivins was guilty before he learned more about the government's case.

But, he said, if the allegations were true, that would increase concerns about safety at the federal labs.

"If it turns out that he was the guy, then that is a discussion that people are going to have," he said. "That's a legitimate question; you can't deny that that is a concern."

But, he said, it shouldn't stop NBAF. ****

I've emailed Mr. Rothschild to ask WHY has neither he nor any other Kansas reporter followed up on the FBI's finding that Dr. Bruce Ivins was THE ANTHRAX MAILER? Nor why the former USAMRIID commander & his subordinates (Col. Jerry & Nancy K. Jaax; all KSU alumni) never explained how NBAF will be more secure from intentional release of deadly pathogens than USAMRIID was.

Scott has never responded. Perhaps if LJWorld readers would ask, Mr. Rothschild would find the subject worthy of reporting?

3 years, 11 months ago

Joe I agree that there are serious security issues with NBAF, thank you for your comments.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 11 months ago

Thank you.

The hyperlink above does not take you to Mr. Rothschild's 2008 article. The link to the LJW article will have to be a Copy & Paste exercise:

Copy ljworld.com/news/2008/aug/01/nbaf_opponent_anthrax_case_raises_concerns/ Paste

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